Q. My gums bleed. Is that OK?
No. Bleeding gums is common but not OK. This is usually a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease (gum disease), which is inflammation and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth.
Periodontal disease can cause damage in other areas of the body if allowed to remain untreated. The bacteria from the gums can enter the blood stream and cause infections elsewhere such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia. Periodontal disease can increase your risk of developing diabetes initially. Those with diabetes may have problems controlling blood sugar levels if they also suffer from periodontal disease. Expectant mothers with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver premature, low birth weight babies than women who don’t have the disease.
Signs of periodontal disease include:
– Bad breath
– Gum redness
– Swollen and tender gums
– Blood on toothbrush while brushing
– Pus around teeth
– Visible calculus/tartar deposits
– Bad taste in your mouth
– Gums bleed easily
– Gum ulcers
If you experience any of the above our dentists will give you a very thorough clean with our ultrasonic scalers and educate you on ways to prevent gum problems. We recommend six monthly cleans and for some who have more serious gum problems, more regular visits will be required or be referred to gum specialists.
Q. Why do I have bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis) is a common condition caused mainly by sulphur-producing bacteria that live on the surface of your tongue, in your throat, and under your gums. It can be caused by a number of reasons but it can also be a sign of something wrong in your mouth.
The main causes of halitosis are
– Periodontitis (infection around the teeth) or poor oral hygiene
– Dry mouth caused by medicines, alcohol, stress or a medical condition
– Dental infections
– Nasal or sinus infection
– Smoking – which starves the mouth of oxygen
Less common causes include:
– Acid and bile reflux from the stomach
– Kidney failure, various carcinomas, metabolic dysfunctions, and biochemical disorders, together account for only a very small percentage of halitosis suffers
– Foods – such as onions, garlic or cauliflower, which induce certain odours. However, these effects are only short-lived
If you experience some of the following symptoms, you may have bad breath and our dentists can help you treat this depending on the underlying cause:
– A white coating on the tongue especially at the back of the tongue
– Dry mouth
– Build up around teeth
– Post-nasal drip, or mucous
– Morning bad breath and a burning tongue
– Thick saliva and a constant need to clear your throat
– Constant sour, bitter metallic taste.
Bad breath can impact on a person as people may back away or turn their heads which can cause a loss of confidence or self esteem.
Treatment – This will depend on the cause. Our dentist will diagnose and treat it accordingly. Avoiding dehydration and good oral hygiene are important. A very thorough clean by our dentists will certainly help keep your gums healthy. Brushing the tongue can help so brush from the back towards the front of the tongue, keeping in mind that the hardest to reach back portion smells the worst. Every patient who gets their teeth cleaned will receive a toothbrush that has a tongue cleaner on the back of it to ensure the maximum removal of plaque in your mouth.
People with chronic sinusitis may it helpful to use a regular saline nasal spray or take a course of antibiotics such as metronidazole to reduce the overgrowth of sulphur producing bacteria.
Q. I am pregnant and my gums bleed. Should I do something about it?
You have pregnancy gingivitis which is a common form of gum disease caused by an increase in hormone levels which can exaggerate a woman’s response to dental plaque in the mouth. Furthermore, if you already have signs of gum disease being pregnant may make it worse. If gingivitis is left untreated, it may lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Peridontitis during pregnancy increases the chance of preterm birth. The good news is that with good oral hygiene and a professional clean by our dentists, there should be nothing to worry about.
It is important to look after your teeth and gums during pregnancy as the bacteria causing cavities and gingivitis is transferable between two people. The bacteria that can cause gum disease resides in the saliva and can easily be transferred from family member to child or between partners.
Your baby’s teeth will begin to develop about 3 months into your pregnancy. The healthier your diet is, the greater the likelihood that your baby’s teeth and gums will be healthy too.